Vacation Plans On Hold as Inflation Hits Canadian Consumers: RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index

Jul 20, 2011 | Corporate Member News

Canadians carrying an average of $13,000 in consumer debt

Canadians are delaying vacation plans, shopping around for groceries, following their budget more closely and holding onto their older vehicles, thanks to rising gas and food prices that are stretching household budgets across the country, according to quarterly findings released today from the RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index (RBC CCO).

With gas prices rising 29.5 per cent in May alone (the biggest jump since September 2005) and food prices climbing 4.2 per cent in the same month, Canadian consumers are responding in very practical ways, listing as their top three solutions:

  • increasing their comparison shopping for food (55 per cent)
  • following their budget more than before and buying less on impulse (48 per cent)
  • using their vehicles less, making fewer trips and using public transit/walking more (29 per cent).

Changing economic factors are also weighing heavily on vacation planning and new vehicle purchases. Almost one-third (30 per cent) of Canadians report that they are more likely to delay vacation plans until 2012 and an almost equal number (31 per cent) are delaying getting a new vehicle and making do with their present one longer than usual.

At the same time, Canadians estimate that they are carrying an average of $13,058 in personal debt (not including mortgages). In addition, fewer feel confident they are managing all their debts well, compared to the previous quarter (30 per cent versus 38 per cent). Reducing what they owe (32 per cent) tops the list of personal financial measures Canadians are planning this year, followed by spending less (28 per cent) and saving or investing more (24 per cent), while 21 per cent say they will be taking all of these actions.

“Canadians are continuing to focus on managing their debts – a very good sign as we enter the second half of the year,” said Richard Goyder, vice-president, Personal Lending, RBC. “It’s encouraging to see consumers are trying to live within their means and seeking out very practical ways to not only pay their bills but also to save and invest. Personal financial advice can be an excellent source of ideas to help ensure Canadians carry out these very good financial intentions.”

Four-in-ten Canadians (39 per cent) expect their personal financial situation to improve over the next year, while a similar number (42 per cent) are optimistic that the national economy will improve over the same time period.

The most recent RBC Economic Outlook from RBC Economics also is projecting positive growth right through 2012.

“Overall, we’re forecasting that the Canadian economy will grow at a respectable clip over the next two years,” said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC. “Supported by the continued economic recovery being projected for the U.S., we expect Canada’s economy to expand by 3.2 per cent in 2011 and 3.1 per cent in 2012.”

The RBC CCO is Canada’s most comprehensive consumer assessment of the economy, personal financial situation and economic and purchasing expectations. Other highlights from the RBC CCO include:

RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index: Overall, the RBC CCO Index is at 94 points, down two points from April 2011.

National Economic Outlook by Region: Albertans are the most optimistic that the Canadian economy will improve over the next year (59 per cent), followed by residents of Saskatchewan/Manitoba (46 per cent), B.C. (46 per cent), Ontario (44 per cent), Atlantic Canada (41 per cent) and Quebec (27 per cent). Nationally, 42 per cent of Canadians expect to see improvements in the national economy over the upcoming year.

Personal Financial Situation Outlook by Region: Alberta and Saskatchewan/Manitoba lead the country in optimism that their own personal financial situation will improve over the next year (47 per cent and 41 per cent respectively), followed by B.C. and Ontario (38 per cent each), Atlantic Canada (37 per cent) and Quebec (36 per cent). Across Canada, 39 per cent expect to see improvements in their own personal financial situation.

Job Anxiety Outlook by Region: At 27 per cent, residents of Ontario are expressing the most concern about the outlook for job loss or layoffs in the upcoming year, followed by people living in Alberta (20 per cent), Atlantic Canada, Quebec and B.C. (18 per cent each) and Saskatchewan/Manitoba (16 per cent). Nationally, 22 per cent of Canadians are expressing job anxiety.

Related regional releases and comparative data charts can be accessed via

About RBC’s debt management and other financial advice and interactive tools
RBC’s myFinanceTracker  , a new online financial management tool, offers all personal RBC online banking clients the ability, at no cost, to create a set budget and track their spending habits. Whether Canadians want to get more from their day to day banking, protect what’s important, save and invest, borrow with confidence or take care of their businesses, the RBC Advice Centre can help answer their questions. Interactive tools and calculators provide customized information covering many facets of personal finance. In addition, online advice videos are updated regularly to reflect current trends and to answer the questions that are top of mind with Canadians. With the guidance of RBC advisors who are available to chat live, Canadians have access to free, no-obligation professional advice about RBC products and services and personalized one-on-one service. Further information is available at

About the RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index
Benchmarked as of November 2009, the RBC CCO is conducted online via Ipsos Reid’s national I-Say Consumer Panel. Data was collected between June 9 and June 14, 2011 via 4,008 Canadians (671 British Columbia, 591 Alberta, 464 Saskatchewan/ Manitoba, 1,099 Ontario, 564 Quebec, 619 Atlantic Canada). Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of ±1.65 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled.

For further information:

Kathy Bevan, RBC Corporate Communications, 416 974-2727, [email protected] 
Seema Sharma, RBC Corporate Communications, 416 974-5606, [email protected]m  

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